The bicycle counter on Seattle’s Fremont Bridge hit a record Sunday night: More than 1 million trips tallied in 2014, a big increase over the 928,279 logged in 2013.
Officials at the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) started “jumping up and down with enthusiasm” when they noticed that the electronic counter had for the first time reached the 1 million mark in a calendar year, the agency said in a blog post Monday.
“This is a pretty big deal,” SDOT Director Scott Kubly said. “Ridership over the bridge is up by about 10 percent. The improvements the city is making in bike infrastructure are inducing more people to feel comfortable riding.”
Installed in October 2012, the SDOT-monitored counter tracks bikes traveling both northbound and southbound on the bridge’s two sidewalks.
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Tom Fucoloro, editor of the Seattle Bike Blog, which had the news first, said bike advocates are also celebrating the milestone.
Before the Fremont Bridge counter was installed, they had to rely on hand counts carried out from time to time by SDOT employees, said Fucoloro.
The $30,000 device was donated to the city via the Cascade Bicycling Club.
“This is a symbol of how fast bicycling is growing. To have these numbers to back that up is neat,” Fucoloro said. “We thought it would take a few more years.”
The Fremont Bridge, which traverses the Lake Washington Ship Canal between the Fremont and Queen Anne neighborhoods, is possibly Seattle’s busiest stretch of road for bikes.
The span is particularly popular among bike commuters traveling from North Seattle to South Lake Union and downtown.
SDOT is planning several projects to improve bike conditions between the Fremont Bridge and downtown, Kubly said. Westlake Avenue North and Dexter Avenue between Mercer Street and Denny Way will get new, protected bike lanes in 2015.
SDOT’s other bike counter, installed in November 2013 on the Spokane Street Bridge to West Seattle, has tallied more than 270,000 trips this year.
Bike counters in other cities tally more trips than the Fremont Bridge device. Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge counter, for example, has logged more than 1.6 million trips in 2014.
But Seattle’s newest data point is impressive nonetheless, Kubly said.
“I think it generates excitement when people see how many other people are riding,” he said.
Seattle’s next permanent bike counter will be installed on Second Avenue downtown, Kubly said.
Ridership there has increased dramatically since September, when SDOT gave the stretch a new protected bike lane, he said.
Daniel Beekman: 206-464-2164 or email@example.com